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Mary Mary Quite Contrary

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockleshells
And pretty maids all in a row.


Similar to a lot of nursery school rhymes, it has acquired false historical explanations. One is that it refers to Mary I of Scotland, through "how does your garden grow" referring to how she was doing controlling the nation, "silver bells" referring to (Catholic) church bells, "cockleshells" being an offense, and "pretty maids all in a row" referring equally to how unattractive Mary was compared to other women and to how she killed citizens: in rows and rows. Though, Mary Queen of Scots was accounted a grand beauty. She was also not recognized for killing "rows and rows" of populace, though her spouse, Darnley, was varied up in a murder, and her lover and third husband, Lord Bothwell, was thought to have prearranged the murder of Darnley. 

An alternative is that it refers to Mary I of England and her detested attempts to take Roman Catholicism back to England, identifying the "cockle shells," for instance, by means of the sign of pilgrimage to the holy place of Saint James in Spain (Santiago de Compostela) and the "pretty maids all in a row" with nuns. On the other hand, capitalising on the queen's potrayal by whig historians as 'Bloody Mary', the "silver bells and cockle shells" referred to in the nursery school rhyme might be colloquialisms for instruments of torture. The 'silver bells' may refer to thumbscrews, while the 'cockleshells' are thought to include been instruments of torment which were attached to the genitals. Lastly, Maids were early guillotine-like devices used to sever heads. Still, a few dispute that no evidence has been found that the poem was recognized previous to the eighteenth century, whereas Mary I of England and Mary I of Scotland (who were contemporaries) lived in the sixteenth century.

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